House Passes Westerman’s Resilient Federal Forests Act in Bipartisan Vote
On Wednesday, November 1, Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul A. Gosar D.D.S. (AZ-04), Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (WI-01), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), Chief Forestry Officer Bruce Westerman (AR-04), Executive Vice Chairman Scott Tipton (CO-03), Chief Rules Officer Dan Newhouse (WA-04), Chief Defense and Interior Officer Chris Stewart (UT-02), Chairman Emeritus Steve Pearce (NM-02), House Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), and Members Reps. Doug Collins (GA-09), Kristi Noem (SD-AL), Kurt Schrader (OR-05), Mimi Walters (CA-45), Paul Cook (CA-08), Jeff Denham (CA-10), Doug LaMalfa (01), Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PA-05), Doug Lamborn (CO-05), Tom Emmer (MN-06), Liz Cheney (WY-AL), and Greg Gianforte (MT-AL) issued statements following passage on the House Floor of Rep. Westerman’s H.R. 2936, the Resilient Federal Forests Act.
Speaker Ryan said, "The Resilient Federal Forests Act addresses the obstructionist litigation by requiring litigants opposing forest management activity to come to the table rather than just saying “no.” The legislation also incentivizes and rewards collaboration and encourages local participation in forest health projects. This legislation also fixes the fire “borrowing” issue, making sure these agencies have the funds they need to fight wildfires throughout the summer, and to start managing our forests proactively.”
Congressman Gosar said, “Today, the House has taken a major step forward in making our federal forests healthy again. We have demonstrated our commitment to halting the practice of fire borrowing so that the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service don’t have to rob fire prevention accounts in order to finance fire suppression. And we have finally passed reforms that will clear the way for proactive forestry management by the Forest Service once again. The cumulative effect of these actions will be that in a few years’ time, phrases like ‘wildfire season’ and figures like $2.5 billion dollars spent on nearly nine million acres burnt will sound like made-up fictions. But before that can happen, the Senate needs to take a vote and the President needs to put his signature on my friend Congressman Westerman’s great bill.”
“This year has proven to be another catastrophic year for wildfires,” CongressmanWesterman said. “Dozens of lives have been lost, thousands of homes destroyed, and millions of acres burned. Congress spoke today and said enough is enough. We must give the Forest Service the tools it needs to stop these fires before they start. We must end the practice of fire borrowing and treat wildfires as the natural disasters they are, funding recovery efforts through FEMA. We must do what is right for our environment and stop these catastrophic wildfires. I thank Speaker Ryan, Leader McCarthy, and Chairman Bishop for their leadership on this issue and I thank my co-sponsors on both sides of the aisle.”
Majority Leader McCarthy said, “Our federal forests are a tinderbox, and our current policy of neglect and over litigation created the conditions for wildfires. I’ve visited the results of this neglect, seen the communities wiped of the map, and walked through completely destroyed forests. In my own district, the Erskine Fire burned over 48,000 acres last year and destroyed nearly 300 homes.
“Devastating wildfires have ravaged the West, taking lives, destroying property and causing significant damage to our precious environment. These large wildfires are the result of decades of misguided forest management strategies, which have left federal land management agencies focused on firefighting rather than on managing forests to reduce these types of catastrophic fires in the first place,” said Congressman Tipton. “The Resilient Federal Forests Act will take necessary steps to reverse this trend by streamlining the permitting process for management activities such as removing dead and downed timber, and allowing agencies to work with local experts to proactively mitigate devastating insect infestations.”
“My constituents know as well as anyone the immense threat that wildfires pose to local communities. In just the past four years, the 4th District of Washington has seen the two largest fires in state history. We have lost hundreds of homes, business, and structures. My constituents are still struggling to recover from the Carlton Complex Fire in 2014 and the Okanogan Complex Fire in 2015. The human toll has been high. Several residents have lost their lives, including three firefighters in 2015. Active forest management is a matter of saving lives and livelihoods, of protecting our communities, and ensuring our constituents’ healthy and safety, which is why I am proud to support passage of this legislation,” stated Congressman Newhouse.
Congressman Stewart said: “Without a doubt, current federal policies have contributed to recent catastrophic wildfires. Wildfire management begins with proper land management. This bill reverses the tide of federal mismanagement and removes heavy handed regulations that have paralyzed forests managers for decades. I am proud that the House passed this legislation. Now the Senate must act to ensure we have healthy forests for generations to come.”
To see the full press release, including background information and the statements of all 21 Members, click HERE. Read bill text is HERE.
Reps. Westerman and Gianforte Discuss Healthy Forests and Wildfires
On October 30th, Reps. Westerman and Gianforte sat down with KBZK Montana to discuss the worsening wildfire problem across the nation and in Montana, as well as the active management forestry strategies that will alleviate it.
Click HERE or on the picture below to watch the interview.
Majority Whip Scalise, Chair of House Natural Resources Bishop Introduces Oil & Gas Bill
On November 3rd, House Majority Whips Steve Scalise and House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop introduced H.R. 4239, the “Strengthening the Economy with Critical Untapped Resources to Expand American Energy Act,” or SECURE American Energy Act. This bill would promote domestic energy development on America’s Outer Continental Shelf as well as its onshore federal acreage.
House Natural Resources issued a statement on the bill, noting “Provisions in H.R. 4239 provide regulatory certainty and reliability, expand access to both conventional and renewable resources, establish revenue sharing with states, and streamline energy permitting processes to make federal lands and waters a competitive and attractive place for responsible development.”
“The SECURE American Energy Act incentivizes offshore energy production by establishing revenue-sharing agreements for Alaska and qualified Atlantic states, and raises existing revenue-sharing caps so that Louisiana and other states can receive hundreds of millions in additional dollars to restore our coast. I am proud to introduce this important legislation with my colleagues Congressman Rob Bishop of Utah, Congressman Henry Cuellar of Texas, and Congressman Vincente Gonzalez of Texas,” Scalise said. “The SECURE American Energy Act opens up more areas for responsible energy exploration, creating good jobs in communities all across our country. Our bill empowers states and optimizes onshore resource management by delegating certain permitting functions to state regulatory agencies instead of Washington. I’m proud to introduce this important bipartisan bill with my colleagues, and I look forward to passing it through the House and getting it on President Trump’s desk so he can sign it into law and we can create more jobs.”
“The SECURE American Energy Act harnesses responsible development on America’s federal lands to create long term energy strength and stability. Through cooperative federalism and commonsense regulatory practices we can fundamentally improve the way our federal lands and waters are managed for oil, gas and wind development. I thank Whip Scalise for his leadership and members on both sides of the aisle for their work and contributions to this bipartisan bill, and look forward to swiftly moving it through Committee and the House,” Bishop said.
Read the full House Natural Resources Committee press release HERE. Bill text can be found HERE.
House Easily Passes Rep. Cramer’s Vegetation Management Pilot on Suspension Vote
On Tuesday, October 31, the House of Representatives passed another forestry bill – Western Caucus Member Kevin Cramer’s H.R. 2921, the National Forest System Vegetation Management Pilot Program Act of 2017. Rep. Cramer’s bill would authorize the U.S. Forest Service to “create a privately-funded pilot program to conduct limited and selective vegetation management near utility infrastructure outside of a right-of-way.”
“A reliable supply of electricity is important on many levels, from human health and safety to commercial productivity,” said Cramer. “Yet, deep within forests managed by federal agencies the risk for outages has been elevated with declining forest health and increased forest fires. Utility companies want to keep the electrons flowing, but a high liability standard keeps them from vegetation management beyond their right-of-way. My bill creates a pilot program completely funded by participating utility companies under a reduced liability standard near their right-of-way so companies will go in to reduce potential hazards to disrupt reliable service.”
Click HERE to read Rep. Cramer’s full press release on H.R. 2921’s passage. Read the bill HERE.
Watch CongressmanAndy Biggs (AZ-05) discuss his efforts working with Western Caucus and the Trump Administration in order to roll back cumbersome Obama regulations like CERCLA, the Workplace Examination Rule, BLM restrictions on recreational hunting, Sage Grouse management plans, and more. Click HERE or on the picture above to watch the address.